The Apprentice 5 Weekly Performance Review, Episode 7 & 8by Brian Towers -- 04/12/2006
This series of articles about The Apprentice will focus on the business actions of each player. Toward that end, I’ll be giving a brief “performance review” for each applicant each week. Warning, a few comments on game play just might sneak in there, as well! Since in most areas two episodes were aired this week, I’ll be considering actions from both shows in this article.
Can I say one thing right off the top? In the first episode, the Apprentices all took hardhats at the construction site, but it was clear they didn’t put them on until they were already lined up where the production crew wanted them. Who’s thinking, “Omarosa” at this point? And Trump never had one on. Is that because he can’t sue himself, or is his hair stronger than any industrial-strength plastic?
The first task was to improve a facility for kids under the tutelage of Ace Hardware and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Judging was on creativity, functionality, and appeal to the executives. I’m going to guess that last one matters most. There are no tricks on this task, just implement a few ideas that appeals to your judges. By that I mean, there are no special demands of time or resource constraints.
The second episode’s task was to sell sandwiches at 7-Eleven. The key to this task was to increase sales – strictly a volume-of-sales marketing task. I hate these kinds of tasks. Why not price the things at a ridiculously nominal amount like a dollar, or even a dime? There’s nothing in the task rules about relative profitability – which is how the real world works.
I wouldn’t say Synergy was outstanding this week, but they were certainly good enough to win twice. The focus was on the other team, so although Allie, Roxanne, and Tammy worked hard and effectively, and recorded a couple of cameos, the best rating I can issue is SATISFACTORY for those who are not more visible at this stage of the process.
Michael: Even though he changed teams I decided to write up all my “Michael” thought in this section.
In the first episode he finally stepped up to be PM. Big negative points here, he was the last one to do so on this team, and further, he’s been invisible for much of this season anyway.
Michael was very lucky this week, and after the first task his team made sure he knew it. Had they not pulled together to win despite him, his dismissal was a sure bet. His inability to make decisions or assign duties reduced his team to tears. Sometimes they were tears of laughter and sometimes, tears of frustration. Neither is at all desirable.
Michael did what seemed like a superior job of interviewing the weekly execs, then nailed them back in their seats for so long the expressions on their face only said one thing – “Get me outta here!”
He overdid the planning phase, limiting the time his team had to actually purchase products. That being said, the multi-function solution they came up with was very good, even the lovely color scheme. Additionally, he speaks well.
I think his decision to switch teams was good for him, but after hiding behind the others for so long we saw all the warts and wrinkles this week. His rating is NEEDS IMPROVEMENT and I actually doubt he can last much longer.
Michael’s lucky Trump didn’t hear his soliloquy about it being OK to lose when you do it with nice people, or he’d probably have fired him right then and there.
Sean: Except for correctly identifying Michael as “a wanker,” I didn’t see a lot of Sean in the first episode, and that made me cranky. So what did we see in the latter one? It seemed like he did very well directing the photo shoot, but that was pretty minor in the whole
Sean felt that the handing out of flyers was essentially a waste of resources, and that he didn’t expect any more that a 10% return. Let me tell you… on that kind of offer, with that timing, the handbill industry would KILL for 10% response!
One thing I notice about Sean, he’s very much a “touch” guy. Maybe Allie is fine with that, but even when sharing a laugh in a cab, you don’t pull your teammate into your lap and pat heron the back.
Leaning mostly on the second episode, I’m assigning Sean a SATISFACTORY rating.
Andrea: I admire Andrea stepping up to be the first one to be PM for the second time. In a season where all but two firings have been losing PMs, this was a bold move. It was also a smart game play move for her to take her second time against the most reluctant of the first-timers.
Being in control is a natural position for Andrea, and she blatantly admitted to the camera that she’d like to be PM every week and she’s happiest when she is in control of everything. What she doesn’t see is how others perceive her.
Andrea’s management style is very iron-fisted and she has virtually no team-building skills. For example, she called a team meeting to make sure Michael knew the team saved his bacon. I thought this needed to be addressed but it makes her come across as the “heavy” once again.
She did come up with the theme and led the team to a victory. But her imposing demeanor doesn’t make her much of a sales person, and she led a sales task.
Her decision to go for hats, not cups… I was a little worried. But the task is only about today’s results of this one product only. Selling side drinks didn’t matter. In the real world, “cups” wins over “hats” because of the probability of secondary revenues.
But remember last season, when Trump lambasted Jenn for activities that led to sales of non-task-related food? Br-rr!
In the first task, she seemed to be the one to come up with the idea of separate stations for the kids.
Oh heck, Andrea’s GOOD, she’s probably even going to win. Trump loves tall strong women. Personally, I wouldn’t want to work for her.
Gold Rush: The first task was a complete disaster, and Lenny is the sole reason why. However, no one helped him out when he was floundering in the meeting with the execs, and all must share some of the blame for not asking key questions.
In the second task, the whole team except for Lee agreed on the price, yet he was the one who actually queried the store manager about prices. Conversely, the idea of free samples was a good one. However, I don’t know who gets credit for it! Also, the cooler they designed was a far better give-away than Synergy’s hats.
Charmaine: Charmaine did a good thing in telling Lenny they needed to prepare for the meeting with the judges/execs, even if the words were not heard. She did ask one question of them, which was almost a majority. However, she had the wrong name for their program, showing her own lack of preparation.
However, Charmaine doesn’t know when to stop talking. In his aside Tarek made it clear that her chatter was “mindless,” and Lenny made similar statements her face. She represented herself pretty well in the boardroom when Lenny attacked her, but adding an extra comment after Trump sends her out of the boardroom and back to the suite, that was unnecessary.
Charmaine was responsible for setting the price for the sandwich. Also, she wouldn’t agree to let Lee’s customer get the sandwiches at $2. Pricing is where they lost the task. As I said above, the task was not about profitability and a lower price did them no harm. In this respect I don’t think she understood the task.
Charmaine’s rating is NEEDS IMPROVEMENT. She’s annoying her teammates and is rather fortunate Lenny did such a horrible job this week.
Lee: We saw a lot of Lee tonight. Some of it was impressive and some of it was… not.
In the second task, his idea of having all the other sandwiches removed was brilliant. Also, he correctly knew that no one pays that much money for a sandwich at 7-Eleven. And in the first task, he stepped in to help a struggling Lenny with the presentation.
But his best move was the big sandwich deal he almost closed. I thought of Sam in season one, trying to sell a glass of lemonade for $1,000. However, the task is not rated on profit, just volume and Lee should have closed that deal for any price.
His biggest failure in my mind was what Trump rewarded as loyalty, and I refer to his overt defense of Lenny. Well, Rebecca showed us last season that Trump praises that trait extremely highly. However, to me it indicates that he didn’t realize what had actually happened for them to lose the task. And at the top of the second episode, he made it clear in his conversation with Charmaine that he values friendship over performance.
Riding about town with Lenny, lost in his hometown while labor was definitely the most critical resource, that was not good either.
Back on the plus side, his attempts to coach Lenny were commendable, even if Lenny didn’t seem to want to hear the very valid suggestions that Lee made. However, that conversation ended with Lee volunteering to go into the boardroom and that’s never, ever a good idea. And in the second task, as a local Lee offered his expertise about the area they were assigned.
In the second boardroom, Leslie highlighted his lack of support for his leader. It’s time for Lee to play the game a little less and just try to get a win. Plus, his continued talking over Leslie just gave me a headache.
It’s hard to rate Lee this week as he did something that, taken alone, could justify all the possible ratings. I’ll settle on a midpoint, SATISFACTORY.
Tarek: Tarek worked very hard in the first task. This shows teamwork, a quality that hasn’t been fully evident this season.
In the second task, he didn’t have much luck getting people to respond to the trivia questions. When he started saying how the sandwich would alter reality, that was foolish and made him look as psycho as Martha’s Apprentice Jim did selling marmalade.
Tarek’s rating is SATISFACTORY.
Leslie: Finally, Leslie was forced to be PM. We saw good reasons why she had been avoiding the position. Mind you, an increase of over 600% is pretty good!
Reminding me again of Jenn and the movie Zathura, she mispronounced the product name consistently as “pizza” instead of “P’eatzza.”
Trivia questions were a bad idea, and the time she and Tarek spent on trivia questions was a waste. No one goes into the store to answer boring and impossible trivia questions about cheese. What were they going to give the winner(s), an extra lunch bag?
One thing she did right was to call the store staff together to be sure they understood exactly how the promotion was going to work. This was a stark contract to earlier this season where models didn’t understand the vehicles they were promoting.
I got the feeling she was determined not to listen to any suggestion of Lee’s. When he reports that the store managers think the price is way too high, that requires action, not denial.
I think her attack of Lee in the boardroom was ill advised. They had four people in the store pushing the product, another body offered limited returns. The time he spent almost closing the big deal – which was NOT “shady,” I might add – was time well spent and should have been the winning margin.
Her rating must be UNACCEPTABLE, not only for leading a losing effort but even more so, for avoiding the limelight all season.
Lenny: I think you’ll find this section surprisingly brief. Lenny did everything wrong this week, and whenever things had a chance to improve, he made them worse. I even stopped taking notes after twenty minutes because the volume of “bad Lenny” comments was too great. Clearly, an UNACCEPTABLE rating has been well earned.
Lenny was on thin ice, and he fell through. Future contestants should review Lenny’s boardroom performance. There are many examples of “behaviors to avoid” that should be committed to memory.
We’re half way through the season and, you know what… I feel a poll coming on! I’d like to include a couple of reader questions so tell me, what should I ask?
Brian lives in Toronto, where he can be reached at email@example.com. He spent a couple of decades working in middle management at The Prudential, primarily hiding behind the coffee machine to avoid his pointy-haired bosses. He’d like to hear your opinions and promises to respond to all serious email! Or, write him if you’d like to know what 100 billion seconds works out to!
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